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Commentary: Mike Milbury’s on-air comment was sexist and insulting to female NHL employees

Mike Milbury in 2005.
(Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

NBC Sports commentator Mike Milbury has apologized for making a remark of questionable taste, one that added no insight or value to the network’s otherwise fine NHL coverage.

Responding to fellow commentator Brian Boucher’s observation Thursday night praising the focus players have been able to maintain in the twin COVID-free bubbles the league has set up to stage the Stanley Cup playoffs, Milbury replied, “It’s the perfect place. Not even any woman here to distract you.”

Aside from being sexist, it’s insulting to the female employees who are working at both sites to help the NHL pull off its playoffs during a pandemic.

Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk died Tuesday, his son Eric announced. Hawerchuk, 57, had been fighting a recurrence of stomach cancer.

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Nor is it Milbury’s first controversial comment recently: He criticized Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask for leaving the team, though Rask departed because one of his children had experienced a medical emergency. A few years ago he said of then-Ducks forward Corey Perry, “If I were playing against him, I would want to hurt him in a painful and permanent way.”

And don’t forget, Milbury’s main claim to fame is that during his playing career he once climbed into the stands at Madison Square Garden during a brawl between the Bruins and the New York Rangers and beat a fan with the fan’s own shoe.

The NHL responded to Milbury’s remark via social media Friday. “The National Hockey League condemns the insensitive and insulting comment that Mike Milbury made during last night’s broadcast and we have communicated our feelings to NBC,” it said in a statement. “The comment did not reflect the NHL’s values and commitment to making our game more inclusive and welcoming at all.”

Milbury issued an apology — or at least, put his name on a few words strung together.

“I sincerely apologize for making the comment. It was not my intention to disrespect anyone. I was trying to be irreverent and took it a step too far,” the statement said. “It was a regrettable mistake that I take seriously.”

NBC Sports said it was “disappointed about Mike’s insensitive comment and have addressed it with him.”

However, it did not say whether Milbury would continue to be assigned to comment on NHL games. An NBC Sports publicist did not respond to an email requesting a comment.


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